Mat 7:9 Or what man is there of you, if his son asks a loaf, will he give him a stone?
Mat 7:10 Or if he asks a fish, will he give him a snake?
Mat 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
Mat 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil.
Mat 4:2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry.
Mat 4:3 And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Mat 4:4 But He answered and said, It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
If you are like me, the thing that sticks out is, God gave Jesus BOTH things that Jesus asked, "What man among you..."
Okay, Jesus had been forty days fasting. He had to be wondering if it was worth it. He had to be thinking somewhere in His human flesh, "Oh for a loaf of bread, or a few fishes." Now, there is nothing wrong with bread and fish, nor with providing them. He proved that in two very famous catering sessions. But think about this. Though it is not specifically stated, Jesus was probably asking for both after these forty days. In place of fish , He got "that old serpent which is Satan, the devil"; and as that serpent pointed out, He had the opportunity to take the stones provided and turn them into bread. So, maybe no REAL father would provide a stone in place of bread, or a serpent in place of fish. But GOD did. Why?
How often have you heard, "Every son the Father loves, He chastens"? And you might just think of that as scolding, or enforcing the peace around the house, when applied to human fathers. But I think, by subtly pointing out what His Father did, Jesus was giving us two bedrock lessons- not only of how His Father acts, but how human fathers SHOULD act.
First of all the bread. Jesus certainly had opportunity and motive to do just as Satan suggested. Would it have been a sin? Gray area there. BUT... here God was saying to us, "Yes, a father CAN provide some things... but are you better off without?" There is a lesson of denying oneself here, not because it is intrinsically bad, but because it "goes to character". If Jesus had allowed himself a "sandstone to Ho-Ho" conversion in the desert, what might He have done on the Cross at the point He shouted, "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?" Would he have even made it out of the Garden of Gethsemane that night? By saying no when necessary, fathers teach us how and when to say no to ourselves.
Second, the serpent. At Jesus' weakest point, God allowed the Devil to tempt Him. Why? Why would He allow it for Job? Or for you and me? For Jesus, it became His first great victory of faith. He found all he needed to resist temptation was right there in what God had given Him. He was able to use that to overcome both Satan AND His own human flesh. He was taught reliance on God, reliance on the Word. So Jesus taught fathers two great lessons, and all of us two great lessons about Our Father: Some things He COULD provide but doesn't; and somethings He COULD prevent, but doesn't. And how we respond determines the kind of person we will be.
I recently had the opportunity to meet two wonderful little kids. The only problem was, they were very defiant of their mother, questioning or disputing almost every request/order she gave them. Without giving too much back story, each child had a different father, neither are that involved in them. I do not believe this is directly the mother's fault. But there are two men out there, who contributed seed to the making of a child, and little else. There is a third man involved, and a gentle word from him quiets everything. They listen to him in a way they won't to their mother. Does he ask something that she doesn't? Not really. But God hard-wired us to respond to a FATHER, and I think that perhaps the most important things a father can do are based on these two things.
A counterstory can be gleaned from recent headlines. The recent shooting up of a police station in Dallas by a man blaming the police for "his losing it all" included in its aftermath interviews with his father. In these interviews, I got the impression that while he might not have agreed with the way his son handled things, he really wasn't arguing the WHY of his actions. I didn't hear anything about, "My son wouldn't take responsibility for his actions causing him to lose his kids and his job," only, "they took it all away from him, and everyone has their breaking point." Days later, a 21-year-old man comes into a Bible study to kill his fellow human beings. He was armed with a gun that his father gave him FOR his 21st birthday. We can't know if his father gave him the racial hatred that drove him; we do know he gave him the gun.
At least one father had the opportunity to NOT provide something he could have been better off without, but gave it anyway. Both fathers had the opportunity to "bring his child up in the way that they should follow, that when they are older they will not depart from it," and apparently didn't. It doesn't just take a father to be there, it takes a father doing the right thing.
Our Father does the right thing, even when we ask for a loaf and get a stone, or ask for a fish and get a serpent. However, Our Father is thinking ahead to when we will inevitably face our Cross, not just feeding our bellies for a moment. And if we had an earthly father that does the same, we are doubly blessed. In 30 years of retrospect, I think my father did a damn good job of doing just that. It couldn't have done him much good to see me going after the serpent when I had a choice. It would have probably made him happy that I learned the lesson of his life years later. And if I learned the lesson at all, it's because two Fathers taught it throughout my life. And I thank them both.